The insights into audience behaviors and preferences that digital metrics provide have been the catalyst, in some companies, for a new alignment between audience developers and their peers in editorial and sales.
“The circulators and editors have very similar interests in managing the relationships of the various constituencies,” McPheters said. “It's only by those two groups working closely together that you can use that for optimal effect. The silos in publishing companies aren't all gone, but they are much weaker than they used to be.”
For instance, at FMA Communications, audience development is used by editorial to build audience through blogs, tweets and other types of social media. “Our Web staff builds audience with SEO and SEM,” Clothier said. “There's definitely a lot more synergy across the board.”
At Tabor Communications, which has no print products, Deb Walsh, director of audience development, finds herself having SEO conversations with both editors and advertisers more frequently. “When I'm trying to build page rank/traffic, I look at the source code to make sure the proper meta- and alt-tags are in place, and that keywords are used in headlines, URLs, bold/italic fonts and anchor links whenever possible. If not, then I work with the editorial staff to optimize that content.” On the advertising side, her department focuses on conversions so the conversations are more about optimizing landing pages and testing calls to action. She said those kinds of conversations are basically new to everybody.
Given these new technologies, platforms and metrics, the necessary skills of an audience developer have changed tremendously from a decade ago.
“What circulators/audience development professionals need to do is to convert their print-product skills to electronics skills, avail themselves of online training/webinars and read industry publications,” said Emelda Barea, VP-circulation and distribution at Jobson Healthcare Information. M